Immediate Release

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs 

Department of Justice Releases Investigative Findings on the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Jackson Juvenile Offender Center in Florida

WASHINGTON – Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department today announced its findings that the state of Florida’s oversight system failed to detect and sufficiently address harmful practices at both the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Jackson Juvenile Offender Center (JJOC), which together constituted the North Florida Youth Development Center (NYFDC). Despite the closure of these facilities, the deficiencies found by the United States implicate the continuing oversight obligations of the state. The state’s lack of adequate controls permitted these violations to persist. It is incumbent upon the state to ensure that the unconstitutional conditions of confinement identified in the report do not exist at its other juvenile justice institutions.

The United States announced its investigation of the NYFDC facilities on April 7, 2010, in accordance with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. On May 26, 2011, Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced the pending closure of Dozier and JJOC. The facilities were officially closed on June 30, 2011, and the residents were transferred to juvenile justice institutions throughout the state. The Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct and/or violations of federal law occurred in several areas, including:< >

Failure to adequately protect youth from harm;
Unconstitutional uses of disciplinary confinement;
Deliberate indifference to youth at risk of self-injurious and suicidal behaviors;
Violations of youth’s due process rights; and
Failure to provide necessary rehabilitation services. 

For more information on the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, please visit

Federal investigation confirms abuse at Dozier, suggests kids in danger at other 
facilities  By Ben Montgomery, Times Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Justice completed an investigation into the conditions of confinement and treatment at the 
now-closed Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, Florida's first and oldest state-run reform school, and concluded that 
there was "reasonable cause to believe that the State of Florida was engaged in a pattern or practice of failing to 
have proper measures of accountability that led to serious deficiencies."

The Department of Justice found:

• That staff used excessive force on youth, including choking and mechanical restraints.

• That youth were often disciplined for minor infractions through inappropriate uses of isolation.

• Staff was not appropriately trained.

• The safety of youth was compromised as a result of their relocation to Jackson Juvenile Offender Center (a more 
restrictive and punitive facility on the Dozier campus).

• The state failed to provide necessary and appropriate rehabilitative services to address addiction, mental health 
or behavioral needs, which serve as a barrier to the youth's ability to return to the community and not reoffending.

The Department of Justice found that the state hired abusive staff at Dozier, failed to provide training, failed to 
ensure that the requisite supervision was in place to prevent and detect abuses, and failed to have an effective 
accountability process.

It said it believes that the harm suffered by juveniles confined at Dozier is not limited to those facilities.

"Although Dozier and JJOC are now shuttered, these problems persist due to the weaknesses in the state's 
oversight system and from a correspondent lack of training and supervision," according to the report by Justice 
Department's Civil Rights Division.

The Justice Department demands that "the state conduct an accountability review of its remaining facilities with the 
assistance of consultants in the field of juvenile protection..."

The school has been the subject of an ongoing investigative series in the St. Petersburg Times called "For Their 
Own Good." The 111-year-old facility has been exposed a number of times over the years for abusing and neglecting
of the youth in its care. The Department of Justice's investigation, launched in April 2010, confirm of what
the Times has reported.

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman C.J. Drake said the department received a copy of the report 
late Thursday.

"Since 2008, we have closed or substantially reduced 23 residential programs statewide — including Dozier — due to
and performance issues," he said. "That's because we proactively identify problems in our residential and take
swift corrective action. Residential programs that cannot implement and sustain corrective actions are closed."

Read more in tomorrow's St. Petersburg Times.

[Last modified: Dec 02, 2011 06:53 PM]